Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 6/5/2021: Fedora’s Compiler Policy and Celemony Software GmbH Adopting Free Software

  • GNU/Linux

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • BSDNow 401: OpenBSD Dog Garage

        Dog's Garage Runs OpenBSD, EuroBSDcon 2021 Call for Papers, FreeBSD’s iostat, The state of toolchains in NetBSD, Bandwidth limiting on OpenBSD 6.8, FreeBSD's ports migration to git and its impact on HardenedBSD, TrueNAS 12.0-U3 has been released, and more.

      • Context in Comprehension | Coder Radio 412

        From adventures in learning, a recipe for great collaborations, to creativity and problem-solving in tech. It's a deep dive chat with Wes Payne.

      • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 905

        fedora 34, sucks, realestate

    • Kernel Space

      • Dates for Virtual Linux Plumbers now 20-24 September

        We took a look at all the events that were announced at the same time as OSS, including KVM Forum. The dates 20-24 September still seem to be clear of conference overlaps so we thought we’d grab them for Plumbers before someone else does. We also thought the timezone last year (Atlantic, 1h ahead of US Eastern and 5h behind central European) worked well, so we’ll plan to hold the conference mostly in that timezone (Although Microconference sessions can vary this if participants need. Our conference architecture will be available 24h)

      • Containers and Checkpoint/Restore Microconference Accepted into 2021 Linux Plumbers Conference – Linux Plumbers Conference 2021

        We are pleased to announce that the Containers and Checkpoint/Restore Microconference has been accepted into the 2021 Linux Plumbers Conference! The Containers and Checkpoint/Restore micro-conference brings together kernel developers, runtime maintainers, and developers working on container- and sandboxing related technologies in general to discuss current problems and agree on new features.

      • Linux Plumbers Goes Fully Virtual – Linux Plumbers Conference 2021

        You may have noticed that the Linux Foundation has announced moving OSS+ELC from Dublin to Seattle, WA due to survey results and vaccination rates in Europe. Since we agreed to co-locate with OSS+ELC this year, we’ve been debating following suit or going virtual. Unfortunately, the safety protocols imposed by event venues in the US require masks and social distancing, making it impossible to hold the interactive part of Plumbers (the Microconferences). Since Microconferences are a differentiating feature of plumbers, we felt that rather than lose such an essential element we’d move the entire conference on-line and hope to be back in-person next year.

      • Device Mapper Gets Some Nice Improvements With Linux 5.13

        The kernel's Device Mapper (DM) code with Linux 5.13 has some improvements worth mentioning this cycle.

        DM-Integrity, which via emulating a block device allows for storing additional integrity information, TRIM/DISCARD is now used to avoid needlessly rewriting of metadata. Additionally, DISCARD is also used to improve hash re-calculation.

      • Some 5.12 development statistics

        By the time the 5.12 kernel was finally released, some 13,015 non-merge changesets had been pulled into the mainline repository for this development cycle. That makes 5.12 the slowest development cycle since 5.6, which was released at the end of March 2020. Still, there was plenty of work done for 5.12. Read on for our traditional look at where that work came from and how it got into the kernel.

        Patches were contributed to 5.12 by 1,873 developers, 262 of whom were first-time contributors; those are typical numbers, especially given the (relatively) small size of this cycle.

      • Preventing information leaks from ext4 filesystems

        A filesystem's role is to store information and retrieve it in its original form on request. But filesystems are also expected to prevent the retrieval of information by people who should not see it. That requirement extends to data that has been deleted; users expect that data to be truly gone and will not welcome its reappearance in surprising places. Some work being done with ext4 shows the kind of measures that are required to live up to that expectation.

        In early April, Leah Rumancik posted a two-patch series making a couple of small changes to the ext4 filesystem implementation. The first of those caused the filesystem to, after a file is deleted, overwrite the space (on disk) where that file's name was stored. In response to a question about why this was needed, ext4 maintainer Ted Ts'o explained that it was meant to deal with the case where users were storing personally identifiable information (PII) in the names of files. When a file of that nature is removed, the user would like to be sure that the PII is no longer stored on the disk; that means wiping out the file names as well.

      • Avoiding unintended connection failures with SO_REUSEPORT

        Many of us think that we operate busy web servers; LWN's server, for example, sweats hard when keeping up with the comment stream that accompanies any article mentioning the Rust programming language. But some organizations run truly busy servers and have to take some extraordinary measures to keep up with levels of traffic that even language advocates cannot create. The SO_REUSEPORT socket option is one of many features that have been added to the network stack to help these use cases. SO_REUSEPORT suffers from an implementation problem that can cause connections to fail, though. Kuniyuki Iwashima has posted a patch set addressing this problem, but there is some doubt as to whether it takes the right approach.

        In normal usage, only one process is allowed to bind to any given TCP port to accept incoming connections. On busy systems, that process can become a bottleneck, even if all it does is pass accepted connections off to other processes for handling. The SO_REUSEPORT socket option, which was added to the 3.9 kernel in 2013, was meant to address that bottleneck. This option allows multiple processes to accept connections on the same port; whenever a connection request comes in, the kernel will pick one of the listening processes as the recipient. Systems using SO_REUSEPORT can dispense with the dispatcher process, improving scalability overall.

        SO_REUSEPORT does its work when the initial SYN packet (the connection request) is received; at that time, a provisional new socket is created and assigned to one of the listening processes. The new connection will first wait for the handshake to complete, after which it will sit in a queue until the selected process calls accept() to accept the connection and begin the session. On busy servers, there may be a fair number of connections awaiting acceptance; the maximum length of that queue is specified with the listen() system call.

      • Toward signed BPF programs

        The kernel's BPF virtual machine is versatile; it is possible to load BPF programs into the kernel to carry out a large (and growing) set of tasks. The growing body of BPF code can reasonably be thought of as kernel code in its own right. But, while the kernel can check signatures on loadable modules and prevent the loading of modules that are not properly signed, there is no such mechanism for BPF programs; any sufficiently privileged process can load any program that will pass the verifier. One might think that adding this checking for BPF would be straightforward, but that subsystem has some unique characteristics that make things more challenging than one might expect. There may be a solution in the works, though; fittingly, it works by loading yet another BPF program.

        Loadable kernel modules are stored as executable images in the ELF format. When one is loaded, the kernel parses that format and does the work needed to enable the module to run within the kernel; this work includes allocating memory for variables, performing relocations, resolving symbols, and more. All of the necessary information exists within the ELF file. Applying a signature to that file is simply a matter of checksumming the relevant sections and signing the result.

        BPF programs have similar needs, but the organization of the requisite information is a bit more, for lack of a better word, messy. The code itself is compiled as an executable section that is then linked into a loader program that runs in user space and invokes the bpf() system call to load the BPF program into memory. But BPF programs, too, need to have data areas allocated in the form of BPF maps, and they need relocations (of a sort) applied to be able to cope with different structure layouts on different systems. The necessary maps are "declared" as special ELF sections in the loader program; the libbpf library finds those sections and turns them into more bpf() calls. The BPF program itself is then modified (before loading into the kernel) so that it can find its maps when it runs.

        This structure poses a challenge for anybody wanting to implement signed BPF programs. The maps are a part of the program itself; if they are not established as intended, a BPF program might misbehave in interesting ways. But the kernel has no way to enforce any specific map configuration, and thus cannot ensure that a signed BPF program has been properly set up. Additionally, the need to modify the BPF program itself will break signature verification; after all, modifications to BPF programs are just the sort of thing this mechanism is expected to prevent. So, somehow, the kernel has to take a more active role in the loading of BPF programs.

      • UBIFS To Default To Zstd Compressed File-System With Linux 5.13+

        Adding to the growing list of changes for Linux 5.13 is the UBIFS file-system now using Zstd for file-system compression by default.

        Where available, UBIFS on Linux 5.13 and later will use Zstd as its default compressor where as previously it had been LZO. UBIFS as the file-system for un-managed flash memory devices is now comfortable with the state of Zstd and that it's the superior solution to call it the new default compression method.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Mike Blumenkrantz: Backish

          The truth is that I’ve been taking some time off from zink in a completely futile attempt to make progress on something else while zink-wip continues to land. Inspired by this ticket describing issues getting CS:GO working, I decided to tackle part of Mesa that I haven’t worked on much and that hasn’t seen much work in a long time...

    • Applications

      • Linux Release Roundup: elementary OS, Zorin OS, Kdenlive + More

        It’s been a busy few weeks in FOSS land. A number of well-known software projects have seen new releases, including those rounded up in this recap!

        As always, I rely on readers to feed me news, be it through the on-site tip form, an email to one of the listed addresses, or even using the medium of interpretive dance — just make sure I’m in eye shot before starting, okay?


        We’ll start with a biggie: a distro beta release! Bug hunters and app developers alike can go go hands on with a beta build of elementary OS 6, the distro’s next major release.

        This update is based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and comes with a number of modest improvements to the Pantheon desktop environment plus updates its associated software stack. There’s also as out-of-the-box Flatpak app support, and a new system installer.

        Monetary sponsors of elementary project get access to daily builds, and the stable version is a ‘pay what you want’ affair. But this beta is, rather notably, available freely. Do note that it won’t be possible to upgrade elementary OS 6.0 beta to the final stable build, though.

      • Compact Text Editors Great for Remote Editing and Much More

        A text editor is software used for editing plain text files. This type of software has many different uses such as modifying configuration files, writing programming language source code, jotting down thoughts, or even making a grocery list. Given that editors can be used for such a diverse range of activities, it is worth spending the time finding an editor that best suites your preferences.

        Whatever the level of sophistication of the editor, they typically have a common set of functionality, such as searching/replacing text, formatting text, importing files, as well as moving text within the file.

        All of these text editors are console based applications which make them ideal for work on remote machines. Textadept also provides a graphical user interface, but remains fast and minimalist.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • Beautiful 3D Print time-lapses with my Nikon D700 and Octolapse

        What I wanted was a stable and sharp timelapse of the entire process with high enough resolution to use in HD videos I produce for my YouTube channel.

        So how did I get it working with my old but trusty Nikon D700? Read on...

      • How to keep files and directories synchronized across different devices using syncthing on Linux

        Syncthing is defined as a continuous file synchronization program: it can be used to keep files and directories synchronized across different devices or “nodes”. The application uses TLS as encryption method, and it is, together with its protocol, free and open source software. When using Syncthing, our data remains on our device, and is transferred directly to the destination without relaying on a central server (peer to peer). In this tutorial we will see how to install, configure and use Syncthing on Linux.

      • The different types of modern (2021) SSH keys (and some opinions)

        Back in 2014 I wrote about what I knew about the then-current different types of SSH keys. Things have changed around a bit since then, so it's time for an update.

        Modern versions of SSH support three different types of public key cryptography for common use; RSA, ECDSA, and Ed25519. Both ECDSA and Ed25519 use elliptic curve cryptography, while RSA is based on integer factorization. SSH once supported DSA public key cryptography, but it has been deprecated since the 7.0 release of OpenSSH in 2017 (search for 'ssh-dss'). OpenSSH supports FIDO/U2F hardware authenticators with ECDSA and Ed25519 keys since OpenSSH 8.2, and supports SSH key certificates for all key types.

      • Stopping cron sending email alert for Linux/Unix jobs

        How do I to disable the email alert send by crontab? When my job is executed and the jobs cannot run normally it will sent an email to root. Why do I receive e-mails to my root account from cron? How can I prevent this? How can I disable email alert sent by cron jobs on a Linux or Unix-like systems?

        The crontab command is used to maintain crontab files for individual users. By default the output of a command or a script (if any produced), will be email to your local email account. To stop receiving email output from crontab you need to append following strings at the end of crontab entry.

    • Distributions

      • Open Letter: DistroWatch

        For the better part of three years, we have remained silent about your ongoing efforts to affect people’s perception of our Linux distribution continuously. We have tried our best not to engage with your evident hostility and disregard to inform your viewers and visitors about correct facts of the Linux distributions you display on your website, especially ours.

        However, we have decided to take a stance. It is today, the 6th of May, that we gallantly demand you to stop. We do not accept for one more minute that the information displayed on your website about our product remains erroneous in what is no longer a “mistake” or “oversight” on your part. In addition, we do not accept the way you have chosen to describe our product, including making an absolute wild claim that we did not offer our product to the public before an arbitrary date, even if that is easily refuted.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Rethinking Fedora's compiler policy

          Now that the Fedora 34 release is out the door, the Fedora project is turning its attention to Fedora 35, which is currently scheduled for release on October 26. One of the changes under consideration for Fedora 35 is this proposal allowing maintainers to choose whether to build their packages with GCC or Clang. This policy change may give maintainers some welcome flexibility, but it has not proved entirely popular in the Fedora community.

          It is a longstanding practice for distributors to pick a specific toolchain to be used to build the full set of packages. Mixing compilers and linkers always presents the possibility of incompatibilities leading to subtle bugs, which is the sort of outcome distributors tend to go out of their way to avoid. Adhering to that practice, Fedora has long used GCC as its compiler of choice — a practice dating back to the time when there were no other compilers to use in any case.

        • Experience Red Hat Enterprise Linux [Ed: Posted under 'feature', but what it actually ought to say is "ad" or "spam" (for IBM)]
        • Explore what's in store with Linux, Automation & DevOps [Ed: Techtarget takes money from IBM to post Red Hat puff pieces (see the disclose at the top). Typical IBM, which just like Microsoft commandeers the media with money.]
      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Ubuntu Touch OTA-17 Arrives May 12 with NFC Support, Available for Testing Now

          Ubuntu Touch OTA-17 is the next major software update for Ubuntu Phone devices, promising support for NFC hardware on various devices, including the Google Pixel 3a and Volla Phone. Besides the obvious benefits, NFC support will also enable developers to add the ability to read or write NFC tags in their apps.

          While UBports devs continue their transition for Ubuntu Touch to the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) base, they added various enhancements to the Ubuntu Touch OTA-17 release. Among these, improved battery life and notifications for the Google Pixel 3a phone, a Macedonian keyboard layout, and automatic screen brightness on the Volla Phone.

        • Our future upgrade wave of Ubuntu 18.04 machines

          Our future issue is that having a lot of 18.04 machines (some of them very critical ones) means that when Ubuntu 22.04 comes out next April, we'll have a lot of machines to upgrade in less than a year (since 18.04 will stop being supported at the end of April 2023). This is probably more unique machines than we've ever had to upgrade in one cycle, even if we assume that the machines users log in to are mostly simple to rebuild. Some of the machines, such as our fileservers, will take extensive testing all on their own.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Events

        • GridGain Announces Keynote Speakers for First Ignite Summit [Ed: Stop calling a bunch of webchats a "summit"]

          GridGain€® Systems, provider of enterprise-grade in-memory computing solutions powered by the Apache€® Ignite€® distributed database, today announced the keynote speakers for the first Ignite Summit, a virtual event taking place May 25, 2021. Experts from Amazon, 24 Hour Fitness, Intel, Banco do Brasil, GridGain and more will discuss the Apache Ignite technology and how organizations are using it to power modern, high-performance applications. GridGain also announced the addition of a pre-conference training day on May 24, 2021, when attendees can get hands-on, technical training from Apache Ignite experts.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Check the status of Tor services with

            The Tor Project now has a status page which shows the state of our major services.

            You can check status.torproject for news about major outages in Tor services, including v3 and v2 onion services, directory authorities, our website (, and the tool. The status page also displays outages related to Tor internal services, like our GitLab instance.

          • Firefox's slow takeover of the address bar's space

            In the current Firefox 88, and I believe in the next version as well (currently Firefox Beta), part of the address bar is a '...' menu for "Page actions". Through using the right button on items in this menu, or on the icons on the right side of the address bar, you can add or remove certain icons from the right side, things like the "Bookmark this page" star. If you start up a current Firefox Nightly, you will discover the three dots of the Page Actions menu are gone, as is your ability to remove any icons from the address bar, including both the "Bookmark this page" star and any that may be put there by some of your addons.

          • It's possible for Firefox to forget about:config preferences you've set

            Firefox has a user preferences system, exposed through its 'Settings' or 'Preferences' system (also known as about:preferences) and also through the more low-level configuration editor (aka about:config). As is mentioned there and covered in somewhat more detail in what information is in your profile, these configuration settings (and also your preferences settings) are stored in your profile's prefs.js file.

            You might think that once you manually set something in about:config, your setting will be in prefs.js for all time until you go back into about:config and change or reset it. However, there's a way that Firefox can quietly drop your setting. If you've set something in about:config and your setting later becomes Firefox's default, Firefox will normally omit your manual setting from your prefs.js at some point. For example, if you manually enable HTTP/3 by setting network.http.http3.enabled to true and then Firefox later makes enabling HTTP/3 the default (as it plans to), your prefs.js will wind up with no setting for it.

          • Mozilla Explains: What are deceptive design patterns?

            Deceptive design patterns are tricks used by websites and apps to get you to do things you might not otherwise do, like buy things, sign up for services or switch your settings. Another word used to describe deceptive design patterns is dark patterns*, which was originally coined in 2010 by user experience specialist Harry Brignall, drawing attention to this practice and building momentum around calling it out. Brignall regularly tweets some of the worst examples of deceptive designs online and hands out kudos for honest user experiences.

            Deceptive design patterns show up as tricky color schemes, frustrating mazes, sneaky designs and confusing language. Websites use these techniques to influence your behavior into a direction that benefits them more than it benefits you. Here are examples of deceptive or manipulative designs you might run into.

      • CMS

        • Dark Mode Plugin Repurposed and Renamed to WP Markdown Editor, Change Leaves Users Confused

          Last year, I asked Tavern readers if WordPress should notify end-users when a plugin’s owner changes. The post was not entirely based on theory. There have been some cases of real-world confusion. The consensus from the comments on that post seemed to be that, yes, such notifications would be welcome.

          When I wrote that post, there was already another plugin changing hands. Dark Mode, which had grown in popularity in its earlier years, had a new owner, WPPool. There were no public notifications of this ownership change. A mere GitHub issue filed, a corner of the web that few users venture.


          Iceberg is licensed under the GPL version 2, so it is legal for anyone to fork it. However, there does not seem to be any mention of the copyright, and only a few references to the original product remain in the source code.

      • FSF

        • Licensing/Legal

          • Celemony releases ARA SDK under open source license and releases software development kit

            Celemony Software GmbH is placing the ARA Audio Random Access audio interface under open source license as well as releasing a comprehensive software development kit. They say that this will make ARA integration even easier for DAW and plug-in manufacturers. Here's the story in the company's own words...


            Right now, the fully revised and expanded ARA Audio Random Access Software Development Kit is available under the Apache 2.0 license, which also makes integration into projects with open-source licenses such as GNU GPLv3 possible.

      • Programming/Development

        • [Old] Bringing GNU Emacs to Native Code

          Emacs Lisp (Elisp) is the Lisp dialect used by the Emacs text editor family. GNU Emacs can currently execute Elisp code either interpreted or byte-interpreted after it has been compiled to byte-code. In this work we discuss the implementation of an optimizing compiler approach for Elisp targeting native code. The native compiler employs the byte-compiler's internal representation as input and exploits libgccjit to achieve code generation using the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) infrastructure. Generated executables are stored as binary files and can be loaded and unloaded dynamically. Most of the functionality of the compiler is written in Elisp itself, including several optimization passes, paired with a C back-end to interface with the GNU Emacs core and libgccjit. Though still a work in progress, our implementation is able to bootstrap a functional Emacs and compile all lexically scoped Elisp files, including the whole GNU Emacs Lisp Package Archive (ELPA). Native-compiled Elisp shows an increase of performance ranging from 2.3x up to 42x with respect to the equivalent byte-code, measured over a set of small benchmarks.

        • Perl/Raku

          • vrurg: Config::BINDish Module First Release

            Soon after Test::Async time has came for the first release of Config::BINDish. At first, I didn’t plan it whatsoever. Then I considered it as a little distraction project to get some rest from an in-house one I was working on lately. But it turned in a kind of a monster which swallowed quite an amount of my time. Now I hope it’s been worth the efforts.

            Basically, the last straw which convinced me to eventually put everything else aside and have this one done was an attempt to develop a model for scalable file hosting. I was stuck, no approach I was considering was good enough. And I decided to change the point of view and try to express the thing in terms of a configuration file. I went on a hunt onto Raku modules site and came back with a couple of already familiar options. Of those I decided that Config::TOML would be the best one for my needs. Unfortunately, very soon I realized that a feature it misses makes my life somewhat harder than I’d like it to be: there was no way to expand a string with an option value.

        • Rust

    • Standards/Consortia

      • Satellite-navigation systems such as GPS are at risk of jamming

        The original purpose of the GPS and its European (Galileo), Russian (GLONASS) and Chinese (BeiDou) counterparts was to enable suitably programmed receivers on or near the ground to calculate their whereabouts to within a few centimetres, by comparing signals from several satellites. In this role they have become ubiquitous, running everything from the navigation systems of planes, ships and automobiles, both military and civilian, to guiding the application of water and fertiliser in precision agriculture. But global-navigation satellite systems (GNSS), to give their collective name, now do much more than that. By acting as clocks that broadcast the time accurate to within a few dozen nanoseconds, they are crucial to jobs ranging from co-ordinating electricity grids and mobile-phone networks to time-stamping financial transactions and regulating the flow of information in and out of data centres.

  • Leftovers

    • Frances Fox Piven Wants You to Raise Hell

      It is a common lament that American society has become polarized. Most commentators consider this a harmful development. Problems, they argue, should be solved through compromise, bipartisanship, and civil discourse. But polarization is not always negative. One of the key functions of social movements is to elevate controversial issues, force people to choose a side, and make politicians respond.

    • The Hedonist Bard of the Midlife Crisis

      Frederick Seidel is the poet laureate of the enlarged prostate. Most likely he would freely admit it, as the unruly gland appears more than once in the poet’s new Selected Poems, which distills 40 years of appetites shored against the indignities of age. If the lyric poet is traditionally working to “find his voice,” the volume outlines the trajectory of a poet who, with some effort, found his as the bard of perpetual midlife crisis. Seidel’s subjects are his lust for life and our disgust at his lust, and he glories in the dirty details: bespoke Caraceni suits from Milan, Patek Philippe watches, and the Ducati motorcycles that have become his signature. Above all, though, is his lust for lust. Intercourse is Seidel’s inexhaustible subject, from BDSM play to an octogenarian’s attempt to hit on the maître d’ at a Meatpacking District restaurant. No opportunity has been spared to remind you that this guy—this guy fucks.

    • Afghanistan's Musical Tradition: a Health Check

      That is why Ahmad Soheil Ahmadi spoke with Ms. Farideh Taraneh. Ms. Taraneh is an Afghan singer of renown, who came onto the Afghan music scene many years ago. Since fleeing to Europe, Farideh has developed her talent and become a beloved artist among the Afghan people.

      In this interview, we talked about the current state of Afghan music, women’s post-peace activities with the Taliban, reform or struggle against the Taliban, the younger generation of Afghan musicians, and the potential post-peace future of Afghan music.

    • Science

      • CRISPR Madness: Welcome to the Age of Genetic Chaos

        Dr. He was imprisoned, fined, and fired from his academic position in China for his actions, although it is still not clear to what extent the higher-ups at his institute were aware of them. At a small meeting that I attended in Berkeley in early 2017 where He spoke, he unambiguously stated that “these things are thought of differently in China than in the U.S.” The U.S. scientific establishment uniformly condemned He’s experiments, but when questioned, most scientists, including Doudna herself, and bioethicists (a profession dedicated, with a few exceptions, to getting the public used to what the scientists and bioentrepreneurs have in store for it), left the door open to future manipulation of humans.

        In a recent review in the New York Review of Books of four books on the prospects of using CRISPR and related gene modification technologies for the improvement of human biology (“Editing Humanity’s Future”; April 29), including Walter Isaacson’s paean to Jennifer Doudna, the biotechnology editor and writer Natalie de Souza addresses the safety of such manipulations as a fundamental requirement for moving forward with human applications. But de Souza, in common with the authors of all the books under review, downplays the fact that “safety” means entirely different things when therapeutic alterations of the tissues of a mature body are considered, in contrast to those that are administered at early embryonic stages. The engineering of retinal cells to relieve blindness, for example, a promising, although still uncertain, application of the technique, is not comparable to ridding embryos of genes associated with cystic fibrosis, HIV susceptibility, or sickle cell disease.

      • A NASA Spacecraft Just “Touched” The Outer Layer Of The Sun

        NASA’s Parker Solar Probe just took its closest pass to the Sun yet, veering so close that it “touched” the star’s blisteringly hot outer atmosphere — and gave NASA an unprecedented firsthand look at it.

        The car-sized spacecraft has zoomed past the Sun a few times now, veering closer and closer each time, according to CNET. Each time, it uses nearby Venus’ gravitational pull as a sort of slingshot that helps it travel closer to the Sun and propels it at higher and higher speeds each time.

    • Education

      • Student Debt Is Devastating American Families—Here’s How

        A national poll conducted in September 2020 by the Center for Responsible Lending found that nearly two-thirds of respondents supported some degree of student loan debt cancellation. A series of state-level polls found the same, with a majority of voters in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina supporting debt cancellation. At the federal level, over 75 members of Congress have signed on to a resolution calling for President Biden to use his executive power to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt across the board. And, in February, the Democratic Association of Attorneys General publicly endorsed the same.

        It makes sense. For too many years, working- and middle-class Americans have been borrowing against their futures on the promise that a college education will provide financial stability and give their families the safety and security they need to thrive. We now know that student loan debt does just the opposite. Borrowers find themselves unable to save for retirement, invest in homeownership, build small businesses, or even give their own children a debt-free education.

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Malicious Office 365 Apps Are the Ultimate Insiders [Ed: Office 360 itself is malicious]
        • Biden administration, Congress unite in effort to tackle ransomware attacks [iophk: Windows TCO]

          Congress has also been paying greater attention to the threats from ransomware, with members on both sides of the aisle citing attacks in their districts on schools, governments, libraries and hospitals as key motivating factors in taking action.

        • Changing role of the board on cybersecurity

          While it is the network security team that is responsible for preventing such a breach, increasingly, the company’s board is being examined in such cases more often than before. So, how can the board be ready if such an unforeseen event unfolds and how the direction to take corrective measures can come right from the top?

          In our latest report we delve into the changing role of the board on cybersecurity to outline the following recommendations: [...]

        • They Told Their Therapists Everything. [Crackers] Leaked It All [iophk: Windows TCO]

          Vastaamo ran the largest network of private mental-health providers in Finland. In a country of just 5.5 million—about the same as the state of Minnesota—it was the “McDonald’s of psychotherapy,” one Finnish journalist told me. And because of that, the attack on the company rocked all of Finland. Around 30,000 people are believed to have received the ransom demand; some 25,000 reported it to the police. On October 29, a headline in the Helsinki Times read: “Vastaamo [Cracking] Could Turn Into Largest Criminal Case in Finnish History.” That prediction seems to have come true.

        • RTF Report: Combatting Ransomware

          2. The United States should lead by example and execute a sustained, aggressive, whole of government, intelligence-driven anti-ransomware campaign, coordinated by the White House. This must include the establishment of 1) an Interagency Working Group led by the National Security Council in coordination with the nascent National Cyber Director; 2) an internal U.S. Government Joint Ransomware Task Force; and 3) a collaborative, private industry-led informal Ransomware Threat Focus Hub.

        • Tesla Car [Cracked] Remotely From Drone via Zero-Click Exploit

          The attack, dubbed TBONE, involves exploitation of two vulnerabilities affecting ConnMan, an internet connection manager for embedded devices. An attacker can exploit these flaws to take full control of the infotainment system of a Tesla without any user interaction.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • Linux buggy patch affair ends with technical advisory board report

                The technical advisory board of the Linux Foundation has asked the University of Minnesota to improve the quality of patches it submits to the kernel project and also follow a "best practices" document to be created by the board.


                One subscriber to the Linux Weekly News website, dvrable, was not very impressed with what Kroah-Hartman had done. 'The introduction [of the TAB report] says 'researchers should trust the developer community will not undermine the researchers' reputations when mistakes are made', but then makes no recommendations to achieve this," he wrote.

                "Greg's authoritarian tone ('I will now have to ban all future contributions from your University', which he shouldn't have the power to do so), his presumption that he speaks for all maintainers, and his accusations of unethical research remain unchallenged by this report.

        • Security

          • 21 vulnerabilities found in Exim, update your instances ASAP!

            A code audit of Exim, a widely used mail transfer agent, has revealed 21 previously unknown vulnerabilities, some of which can be chained together to achieve unauthenticated remote code execution on the Exim Server.

            They have all been fixed in Exim v4.94.2, and the software maintainers advise users to update their instances as soon as possible, as all versions of Exim previous to version 4.94.2 are now obsolete.

            “Several distros will provide updated packages: Just do the update,” Exim developer Heiko Schlittermann recommended.

          • Kubestriker: A security auditing tool for Kubernetes clusters

            It performs a variety of checks on a range of services and open ports on the Kubernetes platform, helps safeguard against potential attacks on Kubernetes clusters by continuously scanning, monitoring and alerting of any anomalies, allows users to see components of the Kubernetes infrastructure, and visualizes attack paths (how hackers can advance their attacks by chaining misconfigured components in the Kubernetes cluster).

            “Kubernetes has become a popular open-source platform for containerized workflows and a key building block for modern technology infrastructure. According to Gartner, by 2025 more than 85% of global organizations will be running containerized applications in production. This widespread popularity and lack of solid security measures in place have made Kubernetes the perfect target for attackers,” Kubestriker’s creator Vasant Chinnipilli, a security architect and DevSecOps practitioner, told Help Net Security.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Privacy Talks | Interview with ioXt CTO Brad Ree

              Timestamp Links & Questions:

            • What happens to privacy once AIs start hacking systems – and people?

              If that happens, it will have a huge and direct impact on data protection. Over the last few years, we have already seen massive leaks of personal data caused by people breaking into supposedly secure systems through the use of flaws in the code. Once AIs can spot vulnerabilities in code and online systems, the threat to privacy will increase greatly. That’s because AI systems can scan continuously the entire Internet, seeking tell-tale signs of vulnerabilities that even security experts might miss. Once a new vulnerability is found in a piece of code, it can be exploited by AIs instantly on a massive scale, giving adminstrators little time to patch, even assuming that they become aware of the problem.

            • Peloton exercise bikes found exposing user data – company dawdles in its response

              On the same day as I published that article, a little birdie in the infosecurity community privately reached out to me saying that there might be another concern – that Peloton might be leaking personal information about its many customers.

              The news didn’t land well with me as I had just had my own Peloton delivered, at the recommendation of my equally fat brother who had been exercising on one for some months.


              Now, finally, the news is public.

            • Twitter Unveils Content Deals With NBCUniversal, Billboard

              Twitter is growing its slate of original content deals, unveiling new and expanded partnerships with NBCUniversal, Billboard, MLB and the NHL, among others.

              At its Newfront advertising event Wednesday, the Jack Dorsey-led social media giant announced an expanded deal with NBCUniversal, with an emphasis on news and sports content. On the sports side, NBC Olympics will create original live video shows for Twitter, including Talkin’ Tokyo, which will count Adam Rippon among its hosts.

            • Companies are now allowed to scan your private communications

              The long-term legislation is expected before this summer. Even though a longer, more muted debate is to be expected, the approval of the interim legislation could lead to all the harmful proposals to be assumed as already agreed upon by the European Parliament and Member States. Unless children’s rights groups and other human rights organisations speak out uniformly to protect both privacy and security of children, we risk falling down the slippery slope taken by the EU for issues with similar consequences such as terrorist content, copyright infringement and now CSAM. Unless we halt the regulation now, new “exceptions” to the rule against mandatory monitoring of communications will continue to appear. EDRi warns that at some point, the exception could become the rule. If as a recent poll states: 72% of citizens oppose EU plans to search all private messages for allegedly illegal material and report to the police, there is much to change in current EU policy making.

            • Facebook and Instagram threaten to charge for access on iOS 14.5 unless you give them your data

              Facebook and Instagram are threatening that users will need to pay for their services. But only if users don't allow the pair to track them from app to app after installing iOS 14.5.

              Following the release of iOS 14.5 all apps must ask for permission before they can track a user between apps and websites. That has companies like Facebook worried about their ad revenue, and they're trying every trick in the book to make sure people allow them to track them.

            • France’s highest court validates mass surveillance in the long term

              In total disregard of European case law, France’s court ruling ignores the fundamentals of many of the Court of Justice of the EU’s (CJEU) rulings. In October 2020, the CJEU considered that both the French law regulating intelligence services’ access to data (“Loi renseignement”) and the legislation obliging telecom operators to retain all communications metadata (IP addresses, location data, etc.) in a generalised and undifferentiated manner were contrary to fundamental rights. With its ruling, the Conseil d’Etat isolates France in its “security Frexit” and gets the rule of law principles out of the way of French intelligence services.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Among World Superpowers, US Poses Biggest Threat to Democracy: Global Poll

        Nearly half of respondents in 53 countries surveyed are worried about U.S. foreign policy, and almost two-thirds say economic inequality threatens democracy.

      • Drone Whistleblower Jailed Ahead Of Sentencing In July

        The post was originally published as part of The Dissenter Newsletter.A federal judge ordered drone whistleblower Daniel Hale’s arrest, and United States authorities took him into custody.

        On April 23, Judge Liam O’Grady signed an order suggesting Hale violated the terms of his supervised release. An arrest warrant was issued, and on April 28, he was jailed.€ 

      • Opinion | Golden Rule Peace Boat Sets Sail from Hawai'i for California

        "We are sailing for a nuclear-free world and a peaceful, sustainable future."

      • Walden Bello Warns of U.S. Warmongering as Tensions Escalate in South China Sea

        China topped the agenda Tuesday when foreign ministers from G7 nations met in London. This comes as both China and the United States are accusing each other of escalating tensions in the South China Sea. Last week, the Chinese government claimed there has been a 40% increase of activity by U.S. planes in Chinese-claimed areas since Biden took office. Critics increasingly argue Biden’s policies on China are risk sparking a new Cold War. “Trump’s anti-China policy is now also being followed by the Biden administration,” says acclaimed Filipino scholar and activist Walden Bello, co-founder of Focus on the Global South.

      • The Leaked Zarif Tape: What Western Media Heard and What He Actually Said

        On April 25, the Saudi-funded and U.K.-backed “Iran International” released a leaked audio recording of Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, in conversation with Iranian economist Saeed Laylaz for what appeared to be an oral history project. Immediately, the three-hour-plus conversation generated a great deal of controversy in Iran and plenty of commentary abroad. In the course of the conversation, Zarif spoke about his diplomatic posts, before and during the Rouhani administration, and his future political ambitions (or lack thereof). He ruminated on his relationship with President Hassan Rouhani, the late General Qasim Soleimani, and the leader of the Islamic Republic, Sayyid Ali Khamenei. He also highlighted his political philosophy on Iranian sovereignty and on international relations, as he discussed relations with the U.S., Russia, and Saudi Arabia, among other nations.

      • Opinion | Let's Finally End the Insanity of Colossal Military Spending During a Global Health Emergency

        Imagine what could be achieved if just a portion of the money spent on military expenditures were pooled into a global fund, and redirected towards ending hunger and massively investing in public health systems.

      • Opinion | More Staff Flee the Republican Attorneys General Association After It Doubles Down on Insurrection

        The group and its members will be forever tied to the Jan. 6 insurrection, especially now that they have apparently doubled down on fanning the flames of Trump’s Big Lie.

      • Opinion | The Apocalypse Must Be Near. I Agree With Henry Kissinger—About Cold War With China

        The US is waging an economic, propaganda, and military cold war against China, heightening tensions and increasing the risk of future confrontations. And it's getting worse.

      • Yes, Israel Is Obviously an Apartheid State

        The recent Human Rights Watch report “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution” is a valuable piece of scholarship: 213 pages of carefully worded, heavily footnoted evidence martialed in sober, and deliberately uninflammatory, prose. Unfortunately, it won’t make a damn bit of difference.

      • Opinion | Why Human Rights Watch Designating Israel's Crimes as Apartheid Is a Very Big Deal

        The report reflects the power of decades of work in defense of Palestinian rights.

      • Regavim: The Israeli Faux Environmental Org Converting US Donations into Palestinian Evictions

        In the village of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank, dozens of Bedouin families are at risk of losing their homes and becoming refugees again by July. While it is the Israeli government and military that are enacting the demolitions and evacuations, their efforts are largely driven by a pro-settler nonprofit supported by American charities.

      • Raising the alarm The UN suspects Russian military ‘instructors’ of major human rights violations in the Central African Republic

        Russian military “instructors” assisting government forces in the Central African Republic (CAR) are facing allegations of committing major human rights and international humanitarian law violations. Citing eyewitness accounts and internal reports from a UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, a new investigation from Radio France Internationale describes dozens of abuses allegedly involving Russian servicemen, including extrajudicial killings, rapes, arbitrary detentions, and other crimes. The Russian Embassy in the CAR has dismissed the UN working group’s conclusions as “speculation.”

      • Survivors of Trauma Transform Their Vulnerabilities into Strength

        Psychologist Susan L. McCammon delved into the benefits of students revealing their traumatic experiences of their own volition. Borrowing from Inger Agger and S. B. Jensen, she highlights the “therapeutic value” to “trauma survivors” of providing testimonial evidence. Young people can be encouraged to reframe their traumas in order to place them within a “political and social context” (110) Their traumatic experiences then become stories of strength through enabling them to change their languages, understanding their geographical and spatial spaces, and committing themselves to building a new society based on transformative justice. Subsequently, a trauma survivor transitions from being the wounded and mutilated person to the impactful and constructive raconteur. In verbalizing the hitherto ineluctable brunt that the survivor has borne, she/ he breaks through the walls of self-imposed isolation. “Shame and guilt,” as Cammon observes, “can be expressed and reframed” (ibid.).

        In all my years of teaching in the North American academy, I have realized that students relate best to the materials they study if these materials are corroborated with testimonial evidence and discussed as stories of human interest. Stories about the tumult of war; devastation caused by fanatical hordes of people who lack an ideological foundation; distress that soldiers who are deployed in hostile territories encounter; the strain of readjusting to family and a regular job that returning soldiers, who have witnessed the unspeakable horrors of war, face, became relatable when they are told by those students of mine who are war veterans. Stories about the objectification of women in the domestic and public realms; infantilization of women in churches that do not consider them fit for leadership roles; criminalization of female sexuality and justification of misogynistic control; the raw wounds of women who have been physically and emotionally abused by their intimate partners; the impairment of women who have been treated as mere chattel; the dreadfulness and mutilating effects of child sexual abuse are best understood when related by those students of mine who have either witnessed or borne such traumas. Stories about the harassment and discrimination encountered by the LGBTQ community; denial of the right to a dignified existence faced by members of that community; the damage caused to a person’s sense of self-worth by the denigration of her/ his race or ethnicity; the damage caused by the internalization of stories that “otherize” minorities; the paranoia of Muslim women who fear that their traditional garb will cause them to be marginalized become more palpable when told by those of my students who have been impacted by these realities.

      • Magical Thinking

        Attention must take a special place in history when Nixon’s former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, is viewed as the voice of reason vis-à-vis China (“Failure to improve US-China relations ‘risks cold war’, warns Kissinger,” Guardian, April 30, 2021) given all of the China-bashing and anti-Asian-American violence of the recent past. Recall that Kissinger was one of Nixon’s most fervent supporters of the Vietnam War and violent debacles in Chile to name a few.

        The call came on a recent afternoon, and I had long since decided not to take direct calls from this childhood friend and former neighbor since I could no longer tolerate his monologues into his slavish dedication to a cult-like sect of a major religious tradition that he continued to follow decades after such a penchant became passé.

    • Environment

      • Faster glacier melting raises hunger threat

        The world’s upland icecaps are in retreat. Faster glacier melting could slow to a trickle streams that once fed foaming rivers.

      • Study Warns of 'Rapid and Unstoppable' Sea Level Rise If World Misses Paris Climate Targets

        "Once you put enough heat into the climate system, you are going to lose those ice shelves, and once that is set in motion you can't reverse it."

      • The Brazilian Amazon Is Now Releasing More Carbon Dioxide Than It Absorbs
      • Energy

        • 'Courting Disaster': Progressives Denounce Biden Plan for Taxpayer Bailout of Nuclear Industry

          "A nuclear bailout is wrong for taxpayers, wrong for ratepayers, and wrong for the climate," said one expert.

        • Ugandan Farmers Whose Land Will Soon Become a Crude Oil Pipeline Pathway Lose Years of Livelihood

          Three years ago, Alfred Okumu Weki’s land was identified for acquisition by multinational oil companies and the Ugandan government to pave way for new oil infrastructure in the Albertine region of Western Uganda where major oil reserves were discovered over a decade ago. To this day, however, no pipeline has been built. This has left Weki – and others in the community – in a state of constant limbo, unable to plant crops and earn a livelihood from their land due to fear that at any moment construction could begin.

          In 2019, the project’s backers – the Uganda government in partnership with China National offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Total E&P Uganda – offered Weki 2 million Uganda shillings (US$600) as compensation for losing his land.€ 

        • New Lawsuit Challenges ‘Fast-Track’ Permits Used for Oil and Gas Pipelines Nationwide

          Five environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in a Montana federal court alleging that the way that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues permits for oil and gas pipelines nationwide violates some of the country’s cornerstone environmental laws.

          This new lawsuit, filed May 3, is the most recent round in a nearly decade-long battle, sparked under the Obama administration, over how regulators approach the environmental impacts from oil and gas pipelines and the extent to which the public gets a say in the permitting process.

        • Investors ‘See Past Greenwash’ as Quarter of Shareholders Refuse to Approve Barclays’ Climate Strategy

          Barclays shareholders have rejected calls to accelerate a phase-out of fossil fuel financing, but a quarter remain unconvinced by the bank’s current approach to tackling climate change.

          Over 100 investors representing more than $4 trillion of funds had filed a resolution with campaign group Market Forces to ask Barclays to set distinct targets in line with the Paris Agreement.

        • Opinion | Calls for Biden to Stop Enbridge Line 3 Continue Unabated

          The Canadian oil company is feeling the heat as Indigenous groups, environmental organizations, and other activists are demanding that the President pull the plug.

        • Tens of Thousands of Premature Deaths Linked to So-Called "Cleaner" Energy Like Fracked Gas: Study

          "If you replace one combustion fuel for another combustion fuel, that is not a pathway to get you to a healthy energy system."

        • The Biden State Department Nominee Who Worked for Saudi Arabia and Big Oil

          President Joe Biden’s Clean Energy Future Plan takes former President Donald Trump to task for “irresponsible trade policies and consistent siding with oil lobbyists over American growers.” But one of Biden’s own top State Department nominees, Jose Fernandez, previously worked for Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and oil giants like Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, and the multinational oil and gas company SK E&P, his financial disclosure forms reveal. Once confirmed, Fernandez will be charged with leading the State Department’s environmental and “economic growth” policies abroad.

        • A Land of Perpetual False Dawn

          Quite often when one thinks of light pollution the first image that comes to mind is of poorly shielded lights illuminating city streets. It’s time to expand our thinking. A recent study conducted in Tucson, Arizona showed that municipal street lights account for less than 20% of the light shining into the night sky. In cities, that means that lighting from other sources (Illuminated billboards, parking lots, commercial, private, etc.) contribute to the majority of light at night.

          Beyond large cities, that balance may be different. There, the total levels of light radiating into the night sky are often lower per capita too. A single bright source of artificial light at night may have an outsized effect on a small town. Power plants, shipping depots, or gas flares can match the output of a small town. But there may be no greater single source of light pollution for communities that host them than industrial greenhouses. A single mega-greenhouse can dwarf the light emissions of its host town by orders of magnitude.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • The Flows Tell the Story: Klamath River Coho Salmon are in Dire Condition

          These are dismal numbers and indicate that Klamath River Coho continue on the slide to extinction. The Shasta and Scott should be the top producers of Klamath River Coho but they are not because of poorly regulated irrigation using surface flows. Irrigation in the Shasta and Scott prevents Coho from reaching the best spawning grounds and kills the juveniles before they can get out to Klamath River. Then disease gets most of them descending the Klamath.

          Meanwhile DFW and the State Water Board allow this to go unchallenged and NMFS is giving Shasta ranchers a Safe Harbor Agreement that allows them to kill Coho salmon.

        • 10-year Anniversary of Northern Rockies Wolf Delisting Comes Amid On-Going Slaughter

          Ten years ago today, federal Endangered Species Act protections were stripped from gray wolves in Idaho, Montana, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and northern Utah because of a rider attached to a must-pass budget bill by U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID).

          This undemocratic move a decade ago—which blocked any judicial review of the rider—opened the floodgates for widespread wolf killing in the northern Rockies, including by hunters, trappers, and state and federal agencies. State “management” of wolves in the northern Rockies has included Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) hiring a professional hunter-trapper to go into the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness to slaughter wolves and IDFG conducting aerial gunning operations to kill wolves in some of the most remote roadless federal wildlands remaining in the lower-48 states.

      • Overpopulation

        • The U.S. Birthrate Has Dropped Again. The Pandemic May Be Accelerating the Decline.

          Births declined by about 8 percent in December compared with the same month the year before, a monthly breakdown of government data showed. December had the largest decline of any month. Over the entire year, births declined by 4 percent, the data showed. There were 3,605,201 births in the United States last year, the lowest number since 1979. The birthrate — measured as the number of babies per thousand women ages 15 to 44 — has fallen by about 19 percent since its recent peak in 2007.

          The declining birthrate is just one piece of America’s shifting demographic picture. Combined with a substantial leveling-off of immigration, and rising deaths, the country’s population over the past decade expanded at the second-slowest rate since the government started counting in the 18th century. The pandemic, which pushed the death rate higher and the birthrate even lower, appears to have deepened that trend.

    • Finance

      • With Tax Dodgers Costing Us $7 Trillion, Ro Khanna Says "Audit the Ultra-Rich"
      • No Worker Shortage: Report Finds Low Wages Make Food Workers Want to Quit
      • Financial Transactions Taxes: The Perfect Way to Pay for Biden’s Infrastructure Package

        We have been told endlessly about Biden’s “massive” or “huge” proposal to spend $4 trillion. At this point, many people probably think that Biden actually proposed a “huge infrastructure” package, with “huge” or “massive,” being part of proposal’s title.

        While it would be helpful if media outlets could leave these adjectives to the opinion section, the bigger sin is using a very big number, that means almost nothing to its audience, without providing any context. In fact, much of the reporting doesn’t even bother to tell people that this spending is projected to take place over eight years, not one to two years, as was the case with Biden’s recovery package.

      • Growing Calls to 'Audit the Ultra-Rich' as Yellen Says Tax Dodging Could Cost US $7 Trillion Over 10 Years

        "Imagine what we could do for people with $7 trillion. That's infrastructure, child care, paid leave, free college, climate action, and other investments in our communities."

      • US First Quarter GDP: Recovery or Just Another Rebound?

        The first thing for readers to understand is the€ 6.4% is not really 6.4%€ for the first three months of 2021. The US is one of the few countries that reports its GDP figures in an ‘Annual Rate’ (AR) percentage. Most other advanced economies do not. Annual Rate reporting takes the actual growth for the period and then multiplies it by four. In other words, a 6.4% annual rate GDP means if the economy continues to grow as it did in the first quarter 2021 than it will amount to a 6.4% for the next twelve months! That means the actual GDP growth for the first quarter was about one-fourth of 6.4%. That€ actual growth was 1.6%€ over the previous, fourth quarter of 2020.

        Another obfuscation in the official numbers is that the US sometimes reports the gain for the quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago, and therefore not the previous calendar quarter. What is important is how much the economy grew in the quarter compared to the preceding quarter—and not compared to a quarter twelve months ago.

      • Crypto exchanges say payment gateways blocking their transactions

        According to crypto executives who pleaded anonymity, ICICI Bank was among the last few big lenders providing services to crypto exchanges. However, it had discontinued the current accounts of these businesses two weeks ago, they said. Other large banks are expected to follow suit, they added.

      • The power struggle behind plans to introduce “Britcoin”

        More than the promised boost to GDP, it’s the emerging threat to the UK’s sovereignty from two different directions – China and market-based cryptos – that is pushing the Bank of England towards a central bank digital currency. Whatever the technical obstacles, expect more of this in future.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • 350+ Scholars Call for Filibuster Reform Ahead of Town Hall

        "The disconnect between popular support for policies and a government's ability to enact them ultimately erodes public trust, deepens political cynicism, and delegitimizes that system of government."

      • Federal Lawsuit Seeks to Remove Confederate Statue at Maryland Courthouse
      • Opinion | The United States a 100 Days Into Biden's Presidency and 100 Days Without Trump

        Biden's plans might be the antidote to Trumpism—creating enough decent-paying working class jobs, along with benefits such as childcare and free community college, as to forestall some of the right-wing dyspepsia that Trump whipped into a fury.

      • Virginia Republicans Are Disenfranchising Their Own Voters

        It’s got to be some kind of justice. Maybe the only kind Virginia Republicans can deliver.

      • Interested persons The ‘international experts’ who observed Russia’s constitutional plebiscite arrived on a charter flight. Who paid for their visit remains unclear.

        During Russia’s constitutional plebiscite last summer, a group of “international experts” were flown in to observe the vote. According to a new investigation from Novaya Gazeta and the Dossier Center, these foreign representatives arrived in Moscow on a charter flight and their visit was carefully planned by the Russian Civic Chamber. As it turns out, some of the visiting “experts” are members of European far-right parties. What’s more, it remains unclear who financed their trip.

      • Activists jailed in St. Petersburg for street exhibition in support of political prisoners

        On Wednesday, May 5, a district court in St. Petersburg jailed two activists for staging a street exhibition in support of political prisoners. According to the rights group Apologia Protesta, the court sentenced activist Pavel Krisevich to 10 days in jail, and activist Anastasia Mikhailova to eight days.

      • Republicans Will Punish Democrats for Every Reform They Make

        I am not worried about what Mitch McConnell will do should Republicans take back the Senate in 2022. I am not worried about what Republicans will do should they retake all of government in 2024. I am not worried, because I already know the answer: When Republicans have power again, they will do “the worst.” I don’t waste a lot of time or mental energy contemplating the worst, because history has shown that I am simply not creative enough to imagine what evil Republicans will come up with next. No matter where I think the bottom is, Republicans will always find a new one.

      • Kushner Companies Violated Multiple Laws in Massive Tenant Dispute, Judge Rules

        It’s been six years since Dionne Mont first saw her apartment at Fontana Village, a rental housing complex just east of Baltimore. She was aghast that day to find the front door coming off its hinges, the kitchen cabinet doors stuck to their frames, mouse droppings under the kitchen sink, mold in the refrigerator, the toilet barely functioning and water stains on every upstairs ceiling, among other problems. But she had already signed the lease and paid the deposit.

        Mont insisted that management make repairs, but that took several months, during which time she paid her $865 monthly rent and lived elsewhere. She was hit with constant late fees and so-called “court” fees, because the management company required tenants to pay rent at a Walmart or a check-cashing outlet, and she often couldn’t get there from her job as a bus driver before the 4:30 p.m. cutoff. She moved out in 2017.

      • Cracks in Northern Ireland?

        Arlene Foster, the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) leader and Northern Ireland’s first minister, resigned after 6 turbulent years in that position. Foster would probably have been forced out if she had not resigned. She also resigned from her membership of the Stormont Assembly, and said she was leaving the DUP.

        The main reason given for Foster’s departure is the Brexit deal’s Northern Ireland Protocol negotiated by Boris “BoJo” Johnson with the EU. Party activists blame Foster and her supporters for the hopelessly impractical trade barrier down the Irish Sea confected as part of the Protocol.

      • Opinion | Why the Future Belongs to the Left

        As long as the barbarism of neoliberal capitalism defines the present, the future can only belong to the left.

      • The Republican Rebrand, Exposed

        So don’t fall for the Republican Party’s “working class” rebrand. It’s a cruel hoax. The GOP doesn’t give a fig about working people. It is, and always will be, the party of big business and billionaires.

      • ‘We Need to Mobilize People Who Don’t Want to Pay Tucker Carlson’s Salary’

        Janine Jackson interviewed Free Press’s Tim Karr about defunding Fox News racism for the April 30, 2021, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

      • Facebook Oversight Board Affirms Trump Suspension -- For Now

        The decision is long, detailed, and worth careful review. In the meantime, here’s our top-level breakdown:

        Today’s decision affirms, once again, that no amount of “oversight” can fix the underlying problem.

        First, while the Oversight Board rightly refused to make special rules for politicians, rules we have previously opposed, it did endorse special rules and procedures for “influential users” and newsworthy posts. These rules recognize that some users can cause greater harm than others.€  On a practical level, every decision to remove a post or suspend an account is highly contextual and requires often highly specific cultural competency. But we agree that special rules for influential users or highly newsworthy content requires even greater transparency and the investment of substantial resources.

      • The Florida Deplatforming Law is Unconstitutional. Always has Been.

        Governor DeSantis is expected to sign it into law, as he called for laws like this. He cited social media de-platforming Donald Trump as€  examples of the political bias of what he called€ “oligarchs in Silicon Valley.” The law is not just about candidates, it also bans “shadow-banning” and cancels cancel culture by prohibiting censoring “journalistic enterprises,” with “censorship” including things like posting “an addendum” to the content, i.e. fact checks.

        This law, like similar previous efforts, is mostly performative, as it almost certainly will be found unconstitutional. Indeed, the parallels with a nearly 50 years old compelled speech precedent are uncanny. In 1974, in Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, the Supreme Court struck down another Florida statute that attempted to compel the publication of candidate speech.€ 

        At the time, Florida had a dusty "right of reply" law on the books, which had not really been used, giving candidates the right to demand that any newspaper who criticized them print a reply to the newspaper's charges, at no cost. The Miami Herald had criticized Florida House candidate Pat Tornillo, and refused to carry Tornillo’s reply. Tornillo sued.

      • The Oversight Board's Decision On Facebook's Trump Ban Is Just Not That Important

        Today is Facebook Oversight Board Hysteria Day, because today is the day that the Facebook Oversight Board has rendered its decision about Facebook's suspension of Donald Trump. And it has met the moment with an appropriately dull decision, dripping in pedantic reasonableness, that is largely consistent with our Copia Institute recommendation.

      • Facebook Panel Upholds Platform's Ban on Former President Donald Trump

        One activist argued that focusing on the Trump ban obscures the more fundamental point that "Facebook's surveillance capitalist business model is fundamentally incompatible with human rights."

      • Facebook Board Announces Trump Remains Banned. Trump Starts His Own “Platform.”
      • Facebook’s ‘Supreme Court’ Upheld Its Trump Ban, But It’s Little More Than Judicial Theater

        But all of this — the critical tone, the authoritative language, the multiple citations of U.N. documents — is just very well-executed stage dressing. The oversight board is ultimately a creation of Facebook, funded by Facebook and designed to serve Facebook: as a private, for-profit company, Facebook has little incentive to invest in projects that could cause it more harm than good. The social media giant funneled $130 million into an irrevocable trust to fund the board for at least six years, money that helps pay the board members’ six-figure salaries so they can write lengthy musings that ultimately hold superficial authority: The board’s decisions are “binding,” according to its website, meaning that Facebook “will be required to implement it unless doing so could violate the law.” But required by whom? The board, which Facebook created? In practice, Facebook can take the board’s advice, or not. It could dissolve the board tomorrow. It’s all just regulatory pageantry.

        That’s the rub: There is no current legal process that can hold Big Tech accountable for its moderation policies. Facebook, along with the rest of the tech industry, are almost entirely unregulated. Aside from hardline restrictions around, for example, child pornography, there are virtually no legal repurcussions for any decisions these companies make. For a long time, that meant Big Tech did pretty much whatever it wanted. Now, with mounting public and political pressure to crack down on some of the industry’s worst habits, and in an effort to avoid actual regulations, Facebook has created a version of self-regulation, and this is what that looks like.

      • Facebook has no reason to ever resolve the Trump ban

        But the ruling also went out of its way to avoid settling the long-term question of whether Facebook is allowed to permanently ban leaders like Trump. The board found the initial ban was justified since Trump’s January 6th posts really did incite violence — but it wasn’t enough to justify a permanent ban. So even as the board affirmed the initial ban, it called on Facebook to set a new policy for how and when Trump could regain Facebook access.

      • Trump ban decision shows the limits of a Facebook 'Supreme Court'

        The Oversight Board has now said that Facebook wasn’t following its own clear rules and that Trump’s account should either be permanently deleted or that a time-bounded ban with a clear end point is needed. It has told Facebook that it has six months to reassess its actions and decide which route to take: reinstate the former president’s account or delete it forever.

      • Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Trump Ban

        Amid concerns that tech giants are too powerful when it comes to the dissemination of speech online, Facebook in May 2020 announced the creation of its oversight board. It’s an independent, global contingent of 20 people, largely academics, and will eventually double in size. Its directive is to determine if Facebook and Instagram content is consistent with the companies’ policies and values and, according to the announcement, it is committed to “upholding freedom of expression within the framework of international norms of human rights.”

      • Oversight Board Upholds Trump’s Ban From Facebook

        In a post to their website’s blog, the Oversight Board condemned Facebook’s actions as shirking responsibility, “In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities. The Board declines Facebook’s request and insists that Facebook apply and justify a defined penalty.”

        The Board insisted that Facebook revaluate the case within six months of Wednesday’s decision.

      • IT minister requesting feedback on future of digital society

        Sufficient availability of connections is the basis for using digital solutions, be it a person's daily life or a business. Therefore, it is necessary to develop electronic communications, meaning connectivity, so that high-speed communication can reach anywhere in Estonia in an affordable way.

        National cybersecurity must be developed further because if the credibility and security of cyberspace are ensured, Estonia can also move forward on the path of digital development. This area includes ensuring cybersecurity both in the public sector and in the economy more broadly.

      • Once Woke, Brain Broke: A Tale Of Echo Chambers

        Now I know it's tempting to blame the rise of these echo chambers on Big Tech. To be sure, they are at least somewhat responsible. But once you get past that initial knee jerk reaction, at some point you've got to grapple with whether or not our primitive human brains can actually handle being constantly jacked into a global network filled with information, some true but most not. As it stands right now, the sad truth seems to be that we can't. But what are we supposed to do about it? Short of a freak occurrence of nature that fries most of the electronics around the world simultaneously, I can't see anyway to fix this except for figuring out a way to adapt appropriately.

      • Live Updates: Cheney Strikes Back as G.O.P. Leaders Move to Oust Her From House Leadership

        Representative Liz Cheney warned fellow Republicans that their party was at a “turning point” and described a “cult of personality” around Donald J. Trump. The No. 2 House Republican endorsed Representative Elise Stefanik to replace Ms. Cheney in the party’s leadership.

    • Misinformation/Disinformation

      • A Facebook panel will reveal on Wednesday whether Trump will regain his megaphone.

        Facebook’s Oversight Board, an independent and international panel that was created and funded by the social network, plans to announce on Wednesday whether former President Donald J. Trump will be able to return to the platform that has been a critical megaphone for him and his tens of millions of followers.

        The decision will be closely watched as a template for how private companies that run social networks handle political speech, including the misinformation spread by political leaders.

      • Facebook Oversight Board Set to Rule on Trump Ban

        Facebook has scheduled an announcement for 9 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday on whether former President Donald J. Trump can regain his megaphone on the site.

        An independent panel called the Facebook Oversight Board is expected to announce whether the company should keep or lift its ban on the former president. The company indefinitely suspended Mr. Trump’s account on Jan. 7, after he used social media accounts to incite a mob of supporters to attack the Capitol a day earlier.

        Here are key facts to know about the Facebook Oversight Board and its decision: [...]

      • Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Social Network’s Ban of Trump

        But the board also said that Facebook’s penalty of an indefinite suspension was “not appropriate,” and that the company should apply a “defined penalty.” The board gave Facebook six months to make its final decision on Mr. Trump’s account status.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Content Moderation Case Studies: How To Moderate World Leaders Justifying Violence (2020)

        Summary: There is an inherent tension in handling content moderation of world leaders -- especially more controversial ones. If those leaders break the rules on social media, some reasonably call for the content, or the accounts, to be removed for violating policies. Others, however, point out that it is important for the public to be aware of what world leaders are saying, rather than removing and hiding the speech.

      • Russia’s censorship agency seeks new fines for Twitter, Google, and Facebook

        Twitter may face another 24 million rubles ($320,880)€ in fines for failing to remove content prohibited in Russia, while Google and Facebook may face an additional 20 million rubles ($267,400) in fines each for the same violation, the Russian state news agency TASS reported on Wednesday, May 5.

      • Meduza’s crowdfunding website restored in full, following hacker attack

        Meduza has restored direct payments through our platform. We temporarily disabled new donations via bank cards earlier in the day on May 5, after unknown hackers attacked our crowdfunding website.€ 

      • Using stolen debit cards, hackers try to discredit and derail Meduza’s crowdfunding campaign

        On May 5, unknown hackers attacked Meduza’s crowdfunding website, which we launched after the Russian authorities designated us as a “foreign agent” media outlet and chased away our advertisers.

      • Listed as a "foreign agent", Russia's most popular independent website risks disappearing

        “The authorities’ goal is to kill Meduza,” said Ivan Kolpakov, the editor of what is Russia’s most popular independent news website. Founded in Riga, the capital of neighbouring Latvia, in 2014, Meduza has been reeling ever since the Russian justice ministry added it to its list of “foreign agents” on 23 April. It plans to challenge the decision in the courts.

        Meduza claims more than 13 million unique visitors a month but in the past few days it has had to close its offices in Riga and Moscow, cut staff salaries by between 30 and 50% and stop using freelancers. The site depends mainly on advertising, but has already lost many advertisers and expects more to go soon. In a bid to resist the drastic loss in revenue and keep reporting, it has launched an appeal for donations.

      • Op-ed urges Benin to end Digital Law threat to journalism

        Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is one of the signatories of an op-ed piece published in Benin on World Press Freedom Day calling for an overhaul of the country’s Digital Law, which has been used to throttle free speech and press freedom.

      • European Parliament confirms new online censorship powers

        On 29 April, the Regulation on addressing the dissemination of terrorist content online was approved without a final vote, concluding the last step of the European Union legislative process before the measures it contains can come into effect.

        The procedure for the second reading excluded elected representatives from the final decision over this human rights intrusive legislation. It deprived EU citizens from seeing if the Members of the European Parliament, the only democratically elected body of the EU would have accepted a 1-hour removal deadline for content, forcing platforms to use content filtering, and empowering state authorities to enable censorship.

      • Facebook reverses censorship of WSWS article debunking “Wuhan Lab” conspiracy theory

        Any individual or group who attempted to share the article received a warning, and some individuals, including WSWS reporters themselves, received temporary suspensions for posting the article.

        But after two months of muzzling anyone who attempted to share the article, Facebook sent messages to users declaring, “we’re sorry we got this wrong. We reviewed your post again and it does follow our community standards.”

      • Internet disrupted in Colombia amid anti-government protests

        Network data from the NetBlocks Internet Observatory confirm the disruption of internet service in Cali, Colombia with the incident from approximately 4:30 p.m. Tuesday local time ongoing as of the morning of Wednesday 5 May 2021.

      • Twitter to warn if you’re about to tweet something ‘potentially harmful or offensive’ – says 34% of users WON’T POST after warning

        Twitter is raising concerns with critics by introducing a new feature that prompts you to “pause or reconsider” a tweet the platform may deem “offensive,” and the social media behemoth implies it’s something the users want to see.

        Twitter said in a Wednesday blog post announcement that they have been testing the feature since last year and have now made “improvements” based on “feedback.”

        These “improvements” include “consideration of the nature of the relationship between the author and the replier,” meaning a tweet that could typically be deemed offensive may have less of a chance of being flagged if two users in a conversation often reply to one another on the platform.

      • RTI filed on government use of 'facial recognition' in airports, Covid-19 vaccination

        The IFF is also keeping a close watch on free speech violations, and demanded accountability from the Centre over Twitter removing 50 posts from its platform last month on government requests. Most of these posts were related to the government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • ‘I don’t want to become a political prisoner’: Three ‘foreign agent’ journalists describe life after designation by Russia’s Justice Ministry

        In Russia, you don’t have to be a legal entity to be designated as a “foreign agent” — all you need is a pulse. Last December, for the first time, the Justice Ministry added a handful of individuals to its registry. The authorities named five journalists and activists. The designations imposed the same public accounting requirements on these people that burden Meduza, which was named a “foreign agent” in late April 2020. In other words, they’re now forced to mark anything they write or share online (or in the mass media) with a loud, inescapable notification that they have “foreign agent” status in Russia. The law also demands that these individuals create formal legal entities, in order to report their earnings and spending to the government. Russia’s regulations do not stipulate, however, that each “foreign agent” needs a separate legal entity, and so three “agents” on the Justice Ministry’s list actually created a joint LLC. To learn more about how this status changes ordinary life, Meduza spoke to journalists and “foreign agents” Denis Kamalyagin, Sergey Markelov, and Lyudmila Savitskaya.

      • ‘A great victory’ Russian court drops case against journalist accused of spreading ‘fake news’ about the coronavirus pandemic

        Last May, Russian journalist Tatiana Voltskaya interviewed an ICU doctor who told her about the critical situation facing St. Petersburg’s coronavirus hospitals. After her report came out, state investigators launched an inquiry on suspicion that she had committed a felony — they accused her of spreading fake news about the coronavirus pandemic. Though there wasn’t enough evidence to press criminal charges, Voltskaya and her newsroom were fined for a similar misdemeanor. But with the help of media rights lawyers, Voltskaya appealed the fines in a landmark court case — and won.

      • Zambian Patriotic Front supporters attack 2 journalists

        On May 1, supporters of two factions of the ruling Patriotic Front political party violently clashed at the party’s headquarters in Lusaka, the capital, and unidentified members of the crowd attacked Francis Mwiinga Maingaila, a reporter at the privately owned news website Zambia 24, and Nancy Malwele, a reporter at the independent New Vision newspaper, according to Maingaila, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app, and a Facebook post by the independent broadcaster Phoenix FM.

      • French journalist kidnapped in Mali asks for help in video

        French journalist Olivier Dubois has appeared in a video calling on French authorities to "do everything in their power" to free him from Islamist militants in northern Mali.

      • French journalist kidnapped in Mali appears in video asking for help

        A video was released Wednesday showing Dubois saying he was kidnapped on April 8 by the al-Qaida-linked group JNIM. In the video he calls on his family, friends and authorities to work for his release. The video could not be independently verified.

        Reporters Without Borders Secretary General and Executive Director Christophe Deloire confirmed the kidnapping to The Associated Press, and called for the reporter's release.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Speaking Out on Bill C-10 and the Regulation of User Generated Content

        And don’t forget my column in Macleans on the government’s plans and this week’s Law Bytes podcast featuring Cara Zwibel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. I’m grateful for the coverage and hopeful that Canadians will continue to pay attention, knowing that it seems likely that Guilbeault will seek to keep some user generated content regulation in Bill C-10 to go with his forthcoming mandated takedowns, website blocking, and the creation of a social media regulator in a future bill.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Wall Street Journal Editorial Tries To Pretend That Fixing Repair Monopolies Is Bad For Your Health

        So we've noted for a long time how efforts to monopolize repair have resulted in a growing, bipartisan interest in right to repair legislation in more than a dozen states. Whether it's Sony and Microsoft's efforts to monopolize game console repair, Apple's tendency to monopolize phone repair (and bully independent repair shops), or John Deere making its tractors a costly nightmare to fix, a sustained backlash has been growing against draconian DRM, rampant abuse of copyright, and other behaviors that make repairing products you own as annoying and expensive as possible.

      • This Motorcycle Airbag Vest Will Stop Working If You Miss a Payment

        In the video, Plummer promotes this as a good option for people who don't ride year-round and therefore may only need a functioning vest a couple of months a year. But when Motherboard asked Klim about what would happen if, say, the customer forgot to turn the subscription back on and got into a crash, a customer service representative confirmed "then, no, it will not go off." Likewise, if the customer's card is declined, they will have a 30-day grace period to update their payment information before the vest stops working, according to Klim communication manager Lukas Eddy.

        “When it comes to missing payments and airbag functionality, In&motion's payment notifications and 30-day grace period are reasonable—at some point, if a person stops paying for a service, that service has to be suspended, just like your utilities or a cell phone plan,” Eddy wrote to Motherboard in an email. “Further, if someone pauses their subscription and forgets to restart it, they won't actually be able to get their In&box into ride-ready status when they go to turn it on. If they then choose to ignore the indicators and ride with the In&box inactive, that's on them and we can expect it not to inflate in the event of a crash.”

    • Monopolies

      • Amazon Is Dictating Personal Hygiene, Nail Length of Contract Drivers
      • Cable's Broadband Monopoly Continues To Protect It From TV Cord Cutting

        One of the nice things about being a telecom giant in a country with limited competition, feckless politicians and hog-tied regulators is there isn't much in the way of accountability. As a major broadband provider like Charter or Comcast, you're allowed to monopolize the telecom market, jack up prices, elbow out competitors, then lobby state and federal government to ensure nobody does anything about it. Hell, thanks to a timid press that can't call a spade a spade, half the time nobody can even be bothered to point out that you're a monopoly in the first place.

      • What If The Media And Politicians Tried To Hold A Techlash... And No One Joined Them

        There's been plenty of talk lately about the "Techlash" which has become a popular term among the media and politicians. However, what if the general public feels quite differently? Vox, which is not exactly known for carrying water for the tech industry, has released a new poll that shows that the public is overwhelmingly optimistic about technology, and thinks that technology has been a force for good in the world. This applies across the board for Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

      • Josh Hawley Wants To Break Up Big Tech And Revisit How Antitrust Matters Are Considered

        Hawley also maintained his longstanding criticisms of Section 230, arguing that its legal protections for companies from what their users post should not extend to any company that utilizes behavioral advertising—an advertising strategy that uses a consumer’s browser history to deliver targeted ads. Many companies argue this improves user experience, while many privacy and consumer rights advocates argue that it is an invasion of privacy and is manipulative.

      • Microsoft to Judge: Apple’s Rules Blocked Our Gaming Service Too

        That was the upshot of testimony Wednesday at Apple’s antitrust trial from Lori Wright, Microsoft’s gaming, media and entertainment vice president, who recounted how her company couldn’t sway the iPhone maker to let Xbox roll out its cloud gaming service through the App Store and tap into iOS users.

      • Microsoft’s feud with Apple over xCloud on iOS got a rival kicked from the App Store

        In 2020, Microsoft was battling to bring xCloud or Xbox Game Streaming to the iPhone and iPad, and the conversations had an unlikely victim: Shadow — a third-party cloud gaming app that lets you stream PC games to an iPhone or iPad.

        Emails between Microsoft and Apple, revealed in the Epic v. Apple trial today, show how the Xbox maker was trying to get xCloud on iOS. Microsoft was trying to figure out how Shadow, Netflix, and other similar “interactive” apps were able to exist in the App Store while Apple was refusing to approve xCloud. Microsoft put forward Shadow as an example of such a service, only to see it suddenly removed from the store.

      • Why Epic is burning its own cash to cook Apple

        The reason Epic’s Fortnite got thrown out of the Apple App Store was that Epic rogue-updated Fortnite to offer a payment mechanism that bypassed Apple’s 30 percent cut of all in-app transactions. Apple booted Fortnite for violating its rules. Epic threw an… epic… hissy fit about this, culminating in the trial starting this week. While Epic has cobbled together an alliance called the Coalition for App Fairness — along with Spotify, Match Group, Basecamp, and Tile — there’s one more tech behemoth in play. Epic Games Store runs on Amazon Web Services. So does Fortnite itself.

        The fight with Apple echoes Epic’s tactics elsewhere. The Epic Game Store is a clear challenge to Valve, which has an iOS-like store called Steam that also takes a 30 percent cut of sales. In a basic act of moral consistency, the Epic Game Store contains — in addition to games by other developers — other game stores. It also takes only a 12 percent cut of sales. Just last week, Microsoft announced it would cut its take on PC games to 12 percent to match Epic, from 30 percent. (It also filed a letter of support for Epic in the current case.)

      • Patents

        • 'A Transformative, Hopeful Event': Under Pressure, Biden Backs Covid-19 Vaccine Patent Waiver

          "This has a real potential to help save lives, strengthen the economy, improve international relations, and eventually end this awful pandemic."€ 

        • Pressure Grows on Biden to Back WTO Waiver on Vaccine Technology
        • Sanders Applauds Biden for 'Putting People Over Profits' by Backing Vaccine Patent Waiver

          "This is exactly the kind of leadership the world needs right now," said Sanders, a longtime advocate of the move.€ 

        • Pfizer announces windfall profits as low-income countries denied vaccines

          The mRNA vaccines developed by these two companies are based on a key discovery of the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Vaccine Research Center, which holds the patent for how the virus’s spike protein is stabilized in the vaccine.

          While several companies have licensed the NIH’s patent, Moderna makes use of the NIH discovery without paying any royalties.

          In other words, without the NIH’s patent, there would be no Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Yet the US government has declined to use what scientists have called a vast amount of leverage over vaccine makers to ensure an equitable global distribution.

        • 'Let's Do Insulin Next,' Says Ocasio-Cortez After Biden Backs IP Waiver to Boost Covid-19 Vaccine Access

          "We can do it with all lifesaving pharmaceuticals," tweeted one group.

        • 70% of People in G7 Nations Want Governments to Force Big Pharma to Share Vaccine Recipes

          "Governments need to step in and force pharmaceutical companies to share their intellectual property and vaccine know-how with the world."

        • Global Health Leaders Hail 'Monumental Moment' in Covid-19 Fight as US Supports Vaccine Waiver

          "Countries that continue to oppose the WTO waiver—such as European Union countries, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Norway, Japan, and Brazil—must now take action, too."

        • Huge News: US Gov't Agrees To Support Intellectual Property Waiver To Help Fight COVID

          Earlier this week we wrote about the absolutely ridiculous coalition of folks who were lobbying against the US supporting a TRIPS intellectual property waiver to support fighting COVID. As we noted, it was totally expected that Big Pharma would object to it, but the surprising thing was seeing Hollywood and the legacy entertainment industry -- an industry that needs COVID to go away to get back to normal -- coming out strongly against the waiver as well. They claimed they had to do so since the waiver would apply to copyright as well, but that's nonsense. The waiver (1) explicitly excluded entertainment products and (2) is expressly limited to "prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19."

        • US supports lifting patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines

          “This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The Administration believes strongly in intellectual [sic] property [sic] protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement.

          Waiving those protections would theoretically let countries and organizations manufacture patented vaccines without facing repercussions. But they would need to have the expertise and materials on hand to actually produce the vaccines.

        • Big Move: US Supports IP Waiver for COVID Vaccine [Ed: Choose patients over patents]

          In the USA, COVID vaccines have been widely distributed and are now available at no cost almost on-demand for anyone seeking vaccination. Vaccines are not widely available in most other countries and global COVID cases are again at an all-time high.

          And, people around the world don’t really trust that Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J are going to be serving them anytime soon. That is where the TRIPS waiver comes into play.


          The U.S. Government is reportedly going to support the waiver proposal, although there are current ongoing negotiations over its actual text and content. Even without a WTO waiver, the US can also act unilaterally to announce that it would not bring any TRIPS cases associated with violations. This is a major change of policy under President Biden and his new U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. In the past, the US has always been on the side of stronger IP rights and more enforcement.

          Trade Secrets + Patents: In the short-run, the big difference is more about trade-secrets than patents. In the longer run, patents may become equally important.

          If we take India as an example, right now there are no patents that have been granted in India tied directly to the COVID response. So, allowing India to waive its promise to enforce patents does not generate any short-term gains. Here, by short-term, I’m really talking about the next two years or so. Hopefully by that time the pandemic will be gone.


          Waiver of the requirement does not force the companies to actually conduct any technology transfer — to provide the information to others who want to manufacture. BUT, it does open the door to governments sharing the information and also to a major WIKILEAKS style sharing of data and information. I believe that a whistle-blowing is actually quite likely because so many scientists and business insiders are wanting to do everything they can to spread the vaccine, but don’t believe that it will be permitted by the CEOs and Shareholders.

        • Law School Canons: The Spoils of Discovery

          The first line of class notes I took in Civil Procedure during our discovery module says, “Spoliation – OLD LEGAL DOCTRINE.” I’m not sure why I felt the need to emphasize that spoliation is an old doctrine at the time, but it makes sense now. Oddly, my note reflects the importance of the doctrine and how it has stood the test of time. Zubulake V, the first case in my Civil Procedure discovery module, is a perfect example of the dangers facing a party if they are not diligent about evidence preservation. Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC, 229 F.R.D. 422 (S.D.N.Y. 2004) (“Zubulake V”). Sanctions were the “spoils” that Skyline Steel, LLC (Skyline / Plaintiff) sought over PilePro, LLC (PilePro / Defendant) during a “bitter” patent suit between the two companies. Skyline Steel, LLC v. PilePro, LLC, 101 F.Supp 3d 394, 397 (S.D.N.Y. 2015).

          Skyline and PilePro are merchants of sheet pile wall systems and components. Id. at 397-98. Sheet pile walls are structures deployed to retain soil or water and are built out of vertical interlocking sheet sections. E.g., Nucor Skyline. PilePro made accusations that Skyline was infringing PilePro’s patent, U.S. Patent No. 8,856,543, through letters and claims on their website. U.S. Patent No. 8,856,543 (filed Mar. 31, 2008) (issued Oct. 15, 2013) (‘543 Patent); Skyline, 101 F.Supp 3d at 397. In relevant part, the ‘543 Patent covers a two-step method for manufacturing a sheet pile section with an interlock connector. U.S. Patent 8,856,543. First, the preliminary wall is formed with a “material accumulation” at the side with the interlock connector, which is then shaved down by shape-cutting to produce a uniform cross-section throughout the interlock connector. Id. The method claims to be able to make different types of connectors, including a T-carrier, Hoesch claw, and a Larsson hook, through the processes shown in figures 1, 2, and 3, respectively, of the ‘543 Patent (shown below). Id. at figs. 1-3.


          Additionally, PilePro was instructed to reimburse Skyline for the costs associated in moving for sanctions. Id. Skyline won the big prize as well: summary judgment on Skyline’s noninfringement claim was granted. Id. at 403.

        • South California judge Bencivengo reveals post-COVID plans [Ed: Well, patent litigation should never be a priority. This shows warped perspective.]

          The Southern District of California judge, who was a patent litigator for 17 years, wants people back in the courtroom – but will keep aspects of remote litigation

        • Covid-19, is waiving patent rights a solution?

          At the World Trade Organization discussions are continuing about temporarily waiving patents rights in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Late April, rich members of the WTO blocked a proposal backed by over 80 developing countries to waive these rights in an effort to boost production of COVID-19 vaccines.


          As the WTO explained on its website, members “remain divided on the fundamental discussion about the impact of IP protection in ensuring rapid and safe access to vaccines and other medical products. Co-sponsors were of the view that the current challenges posed by the pandemic can only be effectively addressed by waiving certain TRIPS obligations. A number of delegations remained unconvinced about the necessity for a waiver at the international level, with some members arguing that a waiver might be counterproductive and undermine ongoing collaborative efforts.”

          Among the latter are Western countries, including Britain, Switzerland, EU member states and the United States, which have large domestic pharmaceutical industries. Their main argument is that IP isn’t the barrier for making available vaccines for people worldwide, but scaling up manufacturing is.

        • Sanofi Wins $17.2M Fees, Expenses After Ditching FCA Suit

          Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc. must pay Sanofi-Aventis $17.2 million in attorney fees, expenses and interest in its failed False Claims Act suit against the company's predecessor alleging the blood thinner Lovenox was improperly patented, a California federal judge ruled Monday.

          U.S. Magistrate Judge Shashi H. Kewalramani awarded the multimillion-dollar figure following Senior U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis' November 2017 ruling granting fees. The case was dismissed by Judge Garbis at the California district court in July 2015 and a panel at the Ninth Circuit in May 2017, with both courts finding that Amphastar wasn't an original source of information as required by the...

        • Fauci Stirs Uproar With 'Agnostic' Position on Covid Vaccine Patent Waiver

          One observer called Fauci's characterization of the patent waiver issue "extremely misleading."

        • Filipino Activist Walden Bello: Global Vaccine Disparity Shows “Irrationality of Global Capitalism”

          The international disparity in vaccine access between rich and low-income countries highlights “the irrationality of global capitalism,” says acclaimed Filipino scholar and activist Walden Bello, who urges the Biden administration to sign on to an effort at the World Trade Organization to temporarily waive intellectual property rules on vaccine technology. He also discusses the COVID crisis in the Philippines.

        • “Millions of Lives Are at Stake”: Pressure Grows on Biden to Back WTO Waiver on Vaccine Technology

          Pressure is growing on the Biden administration to support a temporary waiver on intellectual property rights for COVID-related medicines and vaccines at the World Trade Organization. India and South Africa first proposed the waiver in October, but it was blocked by the United States and other wealthy members of the WTO. Big Pharma has also come out against the proposal and has lobbied Washington to preserve its monopoly control. More than 100 countries have supported the waiver, which they say is critical to ramp up production of vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tests in the Global South. Ahead of the kickoff of two days of WTO important meetings in Geneva, we speak with Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “The big problem is simply not enough vaccines are being produced,” says Wallach. “The world needs 10 to 15 billion doses to reach herd immunity, and right now all of the global production together is on track to make 6 billion doses this year.”

        • Software Patents

          • Discovery of Prior Settlement Agreements and Common Interest Privilege

            The Federal Circuit denied MFA’s petition for mandamus on a discovery dispute, and Chief Judge Prost but wrote an interesting short opinion explaining the panel’s reasoning. In the case, MFA has asserted its U.S. Patent No. 9,886,421 that covers a method of displaying “non-standard fonts” on your handheld device when accessing a network-document.


            The magistrate judge ordered disclosure, confirmed by the district court, and now the Federal Circuit has refused to act on the mandamus petition (other than denying it). Most appeals are taken after final judgment in a case. Mandamus is a shortcut to get an immediate decision from an appellate court on an interlocutory issue (such as discovery disclosure), but is only rarely granted. The court notes that it will only grant mandamus in cases involving a “clear and indisputable right to relief [where there are] no other adequate means to attain the relief.” Slip op., quoting Cheney v. U.S. Dist. Ct. for D.C., 542 U.S. 367 (2004). Even where those elements are met, the district court also has discretion to decide whether granting the writ is “appropriate under the circumstances.” Id.

            In its opinion, the court did not fully decide the issue of common interest privilege in the settlement context, but noted that the Federal Circuit has previously declined to recognize the form of privilege. See In re MSTG, Inc., 675 F.3d 1337 (Fed. Cir. 2012) (holding that pre-settlement communications were not privileged). The court went on to note that even if common interest privilege were adopted in this context, the parties must still show that the withheld documents are “communications by a client to an attorney made in order to obtain legal assistance from the attorney in his capacity as a legal advisor.”

      • Copyrights

        • Benjamin Mako Hill Receives NSF CAREER Award

          Digital knowledge commons like Wikipedia, [Free] software, and collaborative filtering systems like Reddit produce enormous social and economic value and serve as critical information infrastructure. These online communities rely on “peer production” to aggregate contributions from Internet users into vast knowledge bases, which are then made freely available. Citing a prevalent example, Hill points out that, “Wikipedia is the fifth most visited website in the world. Free/libre open source infrastructure serves as infrastructure that we rely on every time we visit a website. Much of what we love and value about the Internet is because of peer production. Although the term might be unfamiliar to many, peer production is the most important organizational innovation to emerge from the Internet. We should do everything we can to understand its complex dynamics and to help preserve and protect them.”

          As crucial as they are, many knowledge commons are under attack by vandalisms, disinformation campaigns, and a range of special interests. At the same time, many of the (largely volunteer-based) groups that sustain mature communities have been stable or shrinking for years. Hill’s project will address this issue from a variety of angles: Why do peer produced knowledge commons increasingly reject the work of volunteers necessary for their long-term survival? How should communities structure themselves to better manage growth? How should they balance the competing goals of remaining open to contributions while protecting the value of what they have produced?

        • Guest Book Review: Copyright in the Music Industry [Ed: Please do not conflate the actual music industry with a monopolistic cartel that abuses and exploits actual artists]

          Readers may know that this Kat enjoys writing about copyright and music from her postings, and during the first lockdown she penned a book on the topic, titled Copyright in the Music Industry: A Practical Guide to Exploiting and Enforcing Rights.

          Dr Sabine Jacques is Associate Professor in IP, IT & Media law at the University of East Anglia and author of The Parody Exception in Copyright Law (OUP 2019), she has kindly provided the follow review of the book:

          I was particularly looking forward to reading Bosher’s book and I was not disappointed (not least because it comes with its own Spotify playlist to immerse the reader into the exciting world of copyright law)! This small book of 220 pages covers all the areas of copyright law which a musician should care about. The book is divided in 5 parts and comprises no less than 22 chapters.

          Part I lays the foundations starting off with why musicians should care about copyright law in the first place. Often seen as complex, Bosher convincingly summarises the reasons why copyright is essential to the music industry and the principles on which it is built. The second chapter provides a simplified overview of copyright concepts ranging from legal instruments to objects of protection, threshold of protection and formalities. Exploring the copyright protection subsisting in a song, Chapter 3 provides an enjoyable account of the genesis and scope of the different layers of protection from the music sheet, lyrics, melody, sound recordings to the artwork. The foundations being laid, chapters 4 and 5 look at what copyright actually grants in terms of rights and what it does not protect. The reader is also briefly exposed to moral rights, mainly in terms of attribution and integrity rights as well as image rights. Looking at what is not protected by copyright law, Bosher predominantly focuses on fair use and fair dealing exceptions to cover activities such as sampling and musical parodies.


          Overall, Bosher’s book comprehensively covers a wide range of issues in a very accessible manner. Whilst predominantly aimed at musicians and music creators, this book is valuable to anyone interested in or working at the intersection between the legal world and the music industry. There is no denying that copyright law is more than just another admin task on a creator’s to-do list and should be seen as a central part of a musician’s workflow. The way in which the author simplifies and debunks common copyright myths makes this contribution a must-read for any music creator who would rather avoid engaging with copyright law. It avoids the usual legal tone to provide the reader with an enjoyable and highly readable copyright guide including numerous well-chosen real-life examples. Accessibility being key, this guide is also available as an audio book.

        • At the Intersection of NFTs and Creative Commons Licenses

          Most of the questions we’ve seen show up on CC’s social media feed relate to the intersection between CC licenses, which enable limitless copying (within the bounds of what the particular CC license’s terms allow, of course), and NFTs, which are designed to create digital scarcity and provide something unique to the NFT’s owner.

        • Court Slams Allarco 'Pirate Device' Lawsuit, Refuses to Ban Sales at Staples & Best Buy

          Super Channel operator Allarco claimed that major retailers including Staples and Best Buy are selling and encouraging the use of "piracy devices" that undermine its business. However, the company's application for an injunction banning sales has now been denied, with the judge slamming Allarco's application and investigative actions from every conceivable angle.

        • If You're Going To Defend A Satirical Song From A Copyright Lawsuit, Don't Try A Bunch Of Stupid Alternative Arguments First

          Australian mining billionaire and former politician Clive Palmer has been hit with a $1.5-million judgement over unauthorized use of the song "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister. The suit was brought by Universal Music after, as part of a 2019 political campaign, Palmer made videos using a modified version of the song with the lyrics "Australia ain’t gonna cop it, no Australia’s not gonna cop it, Aussies not gonna cop it any more". Setting aside the rather questionable scansion, it's a pretty obvious modification of the famous song, giving it at least a chance of qualifying for the fair dealing exception for parody and satire that exists under Australian copyright law. But in a ruling today the court has rejected that argument entirely:

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